Years ago, I saw David Grossman, the author of Killology, interviewed on TV.
He said that the US army discovered in World War Two that soldiers rarely shot at the enemy. They had too strong a training against killing. To remedy this problem, the army took pains to train this reluctance out of its personnel.
This got me wondering whether people who have been trained to avoid intruding upon others could be re-trained to be aggressive sales people.
Apparently, however, a reluctance to kill was not the reason for the soldiers' behaviour.
Grossman based his work on that of S.L.A. Marshall, a journalist with military experience.
In ''Men Against Fire,' published in 1947, Marshall claimed that only 25% of infantry men will "strike a real blow.'' The reason was fear. They didn't want to stick their necks out and left the shooting for someone else.
It also appears that Marshall did sloppy research and had the numbers wrong.
He claimed that he interviewed soldiers each right after they had fought a battle. But Roger Spiller, a military historian, says that he could not find any evidence of these interviews in Marshall's records.
Other officers claim, however, that even if Marshall did not do legitimate research, his claims contained an important truth. During WW2, the draft brought large numbers of civilians into the infantry and there was not much time to train them.
Because of Marshall's claims, however, new methods of training were introduced that made the draftees better soldiers in Korea and Vietnam.
The conclusion would seem to be that yes you can train people to be aggressive.
This is true even if Marshall's exact numbers aren't.
Source: Historian's Pivotal Assertion On Warfare Assailed as False - Richard Halloran, New York Times, February 19, 1989
See also: S. L. A. Marshall's Men Against Fire: New Evidence About Firing Ratios- by John Whiteclay Chambers, II